A budget resolution proposed by Congress threatens to force major changes at the National Weather Service.
The U.S. House is proposing a 30 percent reduction in funds or a cut of up to 126 million dollars from its budget for the rest of 2011 for the National Weather Service.
Normally, the National Weather Service has a budget of about 800 million to 900 million dollars for an entire year to carry out daily operations. The current level of funding for the National Weather Service is set to expire in March.
The proposed cuts would likely impact various weather observation stations (upper air, buoys and surface networks), which are used to run weather models that are useful in forecasting weather, changing how meteorologists make forecasts and get information during severe weather and or during other extreme weather events.
Reducing the amount of data that goes into forecast computer modeling, and, the frequency at which the models run, could be a major setback in today’s forecasting ability.
Of the more major concerns from these budgets cuts is the possibility that they could force work furloughs and rolling closures for 27 or more days at a time of the National Weather Service’s 122 Weather Warning Offices across the United States.
Also with the proposed cuts, there is a strong possibility that the National Hurricane Hunters who fly out of Keesler Air Force Base could be grounded or have more limited flyovers into tropical systems, limiting forecasting data.
This budget cut proposal comes at a time when much of the South is preparing for the upcoming Severe Weather Season.
While these cuts if approved will be significant, it is unclear if this will really have a major impact on an area dealing with severe or extreme weather due to the advanced technology available today and local television meteorologists abilities to deliver the warnings effectively.
It is worth noting that the Obama Administration is opposed to the National Weather Service budget cuts, citing that while they are committed to cutting spending and reducing the deficit, this bill would “sharply undermine core government functions and investments key to economic grown and job creation.”
The United States Senate will vote on its version of the bill by March 4th.
The temporary shutdowns of various National Weather Service Offices if the budget cuts are approved could start across the country as early as the end of March.
The fear of the National Weather Service is that this could lead to permanent job cuts going forward into the next year.